Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Philip Esler's New Paradigm

From Fortress:

Prominent Scholar Proposes New Paradigm for Biblical Theology

MINNEAPOLIS (June 17, 2005)— In New Testament Theology: Communion and Community, Philip Esler proposes an entirely new way to integrate historical criticism of the New Testament and its influence on contemporary Christian life and identity. He defends and advocates historical analysis of the texts that is directed towards understanding their original messages as communications from our ancestors in faith.

Although these messages are contextualized in ancient cultural settings, we can nevertheless comprehend them and dialogically engage with their authors in a framework of intercultural communication and communion. New Testament Theology proposes a variety of ways to understand this communicative process, including memory and long-standing ideas concerning ‘the communion of the saints.’ The book re-engineers New Testament theology by insisting upon the theological gains that come from listening to the New Testament authors in the full force of their historical specificity and otherness.

“Esler's fresh approach to the relationship between New Testament scholarship and the concerns of Christian discipleship inaugurates a new departure in biblical theology. His novel and challenging engagement with questions of method, social history, hermeneutics, theology, identity and conflict, and Christian community urges the reader to think beyond paralysing divisions in historical and theological research. . . . Establishing relationships with our biblical ancestors, e.g. Paul, frees them from their usual status as dead authors of textual monuments to becoming real voices again in the ongoing reflection on God’s creative and redemptive project in this universe. . . . This work offers a critical, constructive and much welcome proposal for the renewal of both theological scholarship and the Christian church.”
Werner G. Jeanrond, Professor of Systematic Theology at Lund University, Sweden.

"The whole project fills me with enthusiasm. Philip Esler is developing a genuinely alternative way of carrying out the aims of New Testament theology."
Robert Morgan, Linacre College, Oxford

"In New Testament Theology Philip Esler tackles questions that most historically-oriented scholars avoid with a passion: how can authors from the past be engaged; what would inter-personal communication with long-dead authors look like; how can the New Testament more fruitfully become a resource for contemporary Christian living?

In engaging such foundational but oft-ignored issues Esler utilizes and evaluates a dazzling array of literary, social-scientific, cross-cultural, communications, and hermeneutical theories. His study of such theories is both impressive and useful, especially since he is able to express complex theories in readily understandable language. His dialogue with reader-response criticism is particularly illuminating, as he argues for a form of inter-personal and dialogical communication with the authors of the New Testament documents that is anchored in a reappraisal and rehabilitation of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics.

Written in a style that is itself inter-personal, Esler knows how to use examples from literature and film as well as from his own life. His studies of 1 Corinthians 10-14 and Hebrews 10-12 illustrate the value of the approach he argues for. His creative and fertile mind stretches and challenges the reader to reevaluate cherished and usually unexamined ways of approaching the Bible. Although he provides a succinct summary of scholarship from the 18th century to the 21st, his primary goal is nothing less than a new way of connecting the results of historical study of the New Testament with Christian belief, practice, and identity.”

Rev. Walter F. Taylor, Jr., Ph.D., Ernest W. and Edith S. Ogram Professor of New Testament Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio

Philip E. Esler is Professor Biblical Criticism at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Among his publications are Conflict and Identity in Romans (Fortress Press, 2003), The Early Christian World (editor, 2000), Galatians (1998), and The Early Christians and Their Social Worlds.

New Testament Theology: Communion and Community

ISBN 0-8006-3720-8

6” x 9”, 368 pp, paperback


ISBN 0-8006-3719-4

6” x 9”, 368 pp, jacketed hardcover


To order New Testament Theology please visit your local bookstore or call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at www.augsburgfortress.com. To request review copies or exam copies, or for interviews with the author please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email toddb@augsburgfortress.org

1 comment:

Loren Rosson said...


Thanks for this. Anything written by Esler is first-rate. I'm going to order my copy of the book right now!